Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cover reveal: Going over Jordan

It's finally complete! Here is the cover for my upcoming book, Going over Jordan, sequel to Going over Home. The design is by Lorie Lee Andrews, an Indianapolis artist, and friend and former neighbor of mine. It is a copper plate etching hand colored with watercolor. Title graphics were done by my sister, Kristin Stout, of Stout Studio Designs in Carmel, Indiana. I must say, I am head over heels with the final product. It's more beautiful than I dreamed. The book will be for sale in a matter of days!


Back of the book reads:

Ellie Fox is a product of the 1990s and 2000s: headstrong, outspoken, and independent. She grew up in the Indianapolis suburbs, started her college life at Indiana University. So when she suddenly has to start life over in the 1840s, her mind is left reeling. She feels, naturally, a bit out of place. Her sister Maddie came with her, but Maddie is now married and seems to be adjusting to her new surroundings quite easily. Not so much for Ellie. She lives with her grandmother in the backwoods and helps her run a station on the Underground Railroad, but what she has been told will become her “new normal” just…doesn’t. And because she is from the future, she knows who she is going to marry— a man named William Cookston. Ellie, ever the hopeless romantic, just knows he will be perfect and will sweep her right off her feet. But when he arrives he seems to be as opposite the man of her dreams as he could be—and he has his secrets, too. Once they’re married, they find themselves living lives of secrecy as they aid runaways. It seems only a matter of time before Ellie’s mouth gets the best of her. And when it does, everything is at stake –even lives. Now it’s up to her to restore their part of the Liberty Line, and grow from a young girl to the woman she is called to be.

Available on Amazon soon!
Release signing: Conner Prairie Curiosity Fair, Saturday, June 13, 2015-11am-4pm- Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, Fishers, Indiana

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

For the love of God

I want to brag on God for a bit here. He is so good. He knows our innermost beings and the desires of our hearts and he seeks to use us through our passions and talents, which he instilled in us. God knows my heart. He knows that the most important thing on this earth to me is my family. When my job in education, being unstable in nature and far away from where we live, which I really did love, began to take a toll on my mental health and my family last year, God helped us make the big decision to transition me to full-time stay-at-home mama at the end of the school semester. It was a huge leap of faith for us. My husband is a good provider, but we really weren’t sure what it was going to look like without my income. But God has sustained us, and has opened up opportunities for me in the world of stay-at-home mamaness. Not only has it restored my mental health and done wonders for my family, especially my children, it has also allowed me to focus my writing career in ways I never have been able to before. I have finally finished my second young adult historical fantasy novel after three years and will be publishing it in June. I am working on editing my great-great-great grandmother’s memoir to turn into a children’s picture book. And the thing I am most excited about is what I wrote about in my last blog: writing Indiana history and genealogy curriculum for homeschooling families.

But since my last blog, God has opened a door that I am about 98% certain I will get to walk through that will expand my writing career in a way I have only dreamt about. I have been accepted into a Master’s program in American History, am all set to start classes in July. I am just waiting on my financial aid to come through. When I first started college in 2004, my majors were History and Writing –two of my greatest passions. After a semester I decided that this was not the direction I was to go – yet—and I changed my major to Elementary Education. In 2010, I graduated with that degree, and I now hold my teaching license in K-6 and have worked in Special Education and ABA Therapy. But now, as God has brought me home and made it clear that he wants me to WRITE in the field of education, he is now opening doors for me to study History again, and these studies will in turn open doors for me to open the doors of history to children around the country, in both fiction and nonfiction. I firmly believe this is the direction God is leading me. He has instilled a love of writing in me since the day I could pick up a pencil and form a word on the page, and the love of story, history, since as young an age.

I am so excited to see where God is leading. It truly is amazing when you come to accept the unique person God has created you to be and understand how he can work through you. It is not yourself who does the work, that we should get the glory, but God. He doesn’t always show you the path clearly laid out, so we have to trust him, but he is so trustworthy. Our lives are in his hands, and I can think of no better place for them to be. Praise his Name.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Motivation Monday: Indiana History & Genealogy Curriculum

It's Monday! A clean slate, a new start. I'm determined to get some things done today. My daughter is at school and my son is down for his nap, so as soon as I'm done writing this blog I am going to tackle my to-do list.

Lazy folk music didn't work. I didn't much done with that playing. A bust of a blog post and I deleted it. Then somebody posted a video of The Dance of the Robe from a production of the Broadway musical Aida and all of a sudden I was motivated to write again.

You see, Aida was a big reason I went manic about five years ago. I graduated with a BS in Elementary Education from IUPUI in May 2010. I was so ready to start looking for teaching jobs, and then about two weeks before graduation, my first ever manic episode struck. Nobody around me knew what was going on, but I thought I had been touched by a stroke of genius. I didn't sleep for a week. I went on an eight mile hike with sixth graders on no sleep and was still bursting with energy afterwards. I wrote. I created. I thought I had found a turning point that would save all of American education. Then I graduated. I started a job as an ABA therapist. And then a month later depression struck, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. But I'd found something out about myself that had been hidden under all the stress that had boiling throughout college--I had passion.

Fast forward five years.

I have spent time as an ABA therapist, a tutor, a Special Education instructional assistant. I finally got my teaching license, thinking I would finally find a classroom teaching job. But then we finally fulfilled our dream of moving to the near eastside of Indianapolis, and I left my IA job at a suburban high school, and became a stay at home mother. Medications, depression, anxiety, disappointment, failure, so many things have worked hard to dampen that passion that came to a boil during my manic episode, but throughout my career I have found a way to bring it to the surface every now and then. And now God has brought me to the next chapter in my education career, where so many of my passions have converged into one: writing Indiana history and genealogy curriculum for homeschooling families.

I published my first novel in 2012, and its sequel is due out in June. They are both historical fantasies set in Indiana with a bit of a genealogy theme. I will also be releasing a children's picture book based on the memoir of my great-great-great grandmother, a native Hoosier. All three of these tie in perfectly with the Indiana history and genealogy focus of the curriculum. I've long been a student of Indiana history, and being a 9th generation Hoosier on both sides, have been steeped in Indiana genealogy research for the past 12 years. Writing this curriculum is a natural flow from my talents
and interests, and I couldn't be more excited to dive in. To go along with this, I will be hosting an interactive blog where students of my curriculum can participate by writing about their own family history, posting stories about their ancestors, answering questions on forums, and more.

If you are a teacher, homeschooling parent, genealogist, Hoosier, or just see something interesting here, please drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you!

Katie Andrews Potter  

Saturday, April 25, 2015

What is your life?

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
                                                                                                                        James 4:14 

It's been a while since I've posted on this blog. I've been working hard on my latest novel which is set to release in June, but there are other reasons I've been avoiding this blog, and genealogy in general. Some of you may know that I struggle with bipolar disorder, and when it strikes, some things just fall to the wayside. But lately, especially since a visit to Crown Hill National Cemetery a couple weeks ago, something has been nagging in my mind.

What's the point?

I'm not really talking about the point of doing genealogy, but genealogy and visits to cemeteries made me think of this. So many names, so many records, so many graves, all in oblivion. Let's take Hannah Zimmerman Caylor, for instance. I may be the only person out of billions of people on the planet to give her a passing thought today--any day. When was the last time anybody took the time of day to stand at her grave? It's barely half a foot above the ground in a small cemetery in northern Hamilton County, Indiana, in an old part that probably doesn't get many visitors. Cars go forty miles an hour past it, and if they stop and scan the stones, hers probably won't even get noticed.

It just made me think. What is your life?

This could get really depressing, really fast. Just bear with me. These thoughts have come into my head, most likely, because my illness has caused me to be somewhat self-absorbed. My life and my troubles seem so real, so tangible, so powerful, to me right now, but the old adage-this too shall pass-has never seemed so true. Hannah's struggles--growing up on the frontier in Indiana, marrying young, raising nine children, losing three of them, and her husband--all seemed so real and present to her, but they are all over with, forgotten to the whole world. All I have to do is pass a cemetery and see the crumbling gravestones of the dead to remember this truth, that it all will pass. All of her 24 grandchildren are now dead and gone, too, and there is no memory of Hannah alive on this earth. And someday it'll happen to us, too. All we'll be to this earth is a stone and an illegible name on a census.

Hannah <i>Zimmerman</i> Caylor

But then I think of Hannah again, and her life, and I read the words written about her in her obituary: "Her affliction has been a constant source of suffering during the last twenty years of her life but she has been patient and silent, always fearing that her own suffering might bring others worry. Thus has she lived long and learned the beautiful, but hard lesson of patience and died as she had lived with fortitude resigned to the will of the God whom she had found and served."                                               Source:

What a testament to her life! What kind of ripple effect did her faith have on those around her? Even today, 112 years after her death, her great-great-great-great granddaughter sits at her computer reading her obituary and takes the lesson to not wallow in my suffering, but to serve the God I have found, who found me.

Why would we want to live for anything other than to glorify God?

One day we will all pass away, and years later there may be nothing for anyone on this planet to remember us by, but who knows what effect lives lived for something greater than themselves will have. As Isaiah 40:8 says, "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."

Live for eternity. It's worth it.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

#52Ancestors: So Far Away: From Grimm to Holsclaw

Okay, this week is about more than one ancestor, but for the sake of the hashtag, I'll make it about my paternal grandmother's stories of her last name: Mary Ruth Holsclaw Andrews. More to come on her in another post.

Mary Ruth Holsclaw Andrews

Before beginning my genealogy when I was 16, I never knew my grandmother's maiden name. She had never mentioned her parents, though she had often told me about her childhood. So when I heard the name was Holslcaw, I immediately knew it had to be German. Sure enough, she told me that she had heard it came from the name of a town in Germany. She also told me that the name used to be Grimm before it was changed. I was a newbie to online genealogy research at the time, but I stumbled upon Familysearch and typed in the names she gave me. I was excited to right away find names dating all the way back to the 1400s. But what amazed me the most was that my grandmother was exactly right. The name had gone through several changes, but in the 1400s it was Grimm. That oral tradition had been passed down over 600 years to my grandma. I even discovered a book on the genealogy of the Holtzclaw family, and not once did it mention the name Grimm, so I knew she didn't get it from there. That oral tradition  had traveled from so far away. It resided in Nassau-Seigen area of Germany for 300 years, crossed the Atlantic in 1714 with our ancestor Jacob Holtzklau, settled in Virginia, then made it's way to Kentucky and finally to Indiana in the 1840s, where my grandma was born in 1919, and in 2002 it was passed on to me. Genealogy is pretty stinkin cool, folks.

Church at Oberholzklau
from The Genealogy of the Holtzclaw Family 1540-1935
by B.C. Holtzclaw

William Theodore Holsclaw

Jacob Doddridge Holsclaw
Vawter Cemetery, Jennings Co., Indiana

Friday, February 6, 2015

Funeral Card Friday: Grandma "Maxine" Lutz

A little over seven years ago, my great-grandma, Virginia "Maxine" Bunce Lutz passed away. I remember all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren crowding into her hospital room toward the end, but she only passed away after she saw her sister for the last time. She had lived most of her life as a police man's wife and mother to three in Indianapolis, but lived later in Edinburgh, as did her son, my uncle David, so the funeral was held at a church in that town. She was buried next to her husband, my great-grandfather, Harold Lutz, at Friendship Park Cemetery in Paragon, over a half hour away from the church. It was the neatest funeral procession as police men escorted our party all that long way. Below is the beautiful eulogy given at her funeral.

Grandma's high school graduation picture

Virginia Maxine Bunce Lutz was born on December 30 in the year 1923, and she entered into God’s eternal kingdom on Tuesday, January 15, 2008.  She was preceded in death by her parents Esther Giroud and William Bunce, her husband Harold Lutz, her step-brother Frank and her sister Norma.

 Maxine was born in the city of Indianapolis and lived in the city for much of her life.  She graduated from Arsenal Tech High School as one of the top ten students in her class.  Not liking her given name Virginia she preferred to go by her middle name Maxine.  At age 13 she met her future husband, Harold, thanks to her father.  Her father William was a milkman and he often employed young men to be helpers on his milk route.  This was beneficial not only to Maxine but also one of her sisters as they both married milk route helpers.  Harold and Maxine became high school sweethearts and married on January 31, 1942.  Harold gave her the nickname “Mac” and that caught on with family and friends.  They were married for 50 years, until Harold passed away from cancer in 1992.

Early on Maxine or “Mac” was employed by the Indianapolis Police Department and Commercial Motor Freight.  In both positions she worked in the office.  But after her children Bob, Darlene and David were born, Mac focused her energy on being a housewife and mother.  She also did some in home child care.   Mac never drove.  Her first time behind the wheel convinced her otherwise.  She nearly went over a bridge and decided to leave the driving to others.  But this was not a problem for her, as she was a homebody and preferred to spend her time at home caring for the needs of her family and friends.  She was a member of Morris Street Methodist Church, and her three children were all baptized on the same Sunday.

 Maxine had a flair for organization that touched every aspect of her life.  Having grown up during the Depression Era, she understood the importance of stretching every dollar.  She had a knack for household finances and would keep a monthly budget in a rubber-banded Sucrets tin.  She had a pay as you go attitude about spending, and sought various ways to save money, including taking advantage of sales to stock up on necessary items.  Mac was particular about her shopping.  If she sent one of the children to pick up something for her, they better be sure to pick up the correct brand and the right size.  If not, they could anticipate having to go back to make an exchange.  Dented cans weren’t an issue for her.  If it was the brand she wanted, she’d buy it anyway, and save a few cents on the dented can.

 Mac also had a passion for cutting and saving coupons, not only for herself but also for others.  She was a pro at saving Stokely Van-Camp labels and green stamps.  In time she collected enough for a Radio Flyer Wagon and a child-sized wooden rocking chair for each of her grandchildren.

 Her great talent for organization carried over into her daily routine.  Mondays and Thursdays were wash days.  Tuesdays and Fridays were spent ironing.  Her children told me that Mac was passionate about ironing.  Everything got ironed – clothes, sheets, you name it.  Though she did draw a line at undergarments and socks.  Her home was organized.  Furniture never moved once Mac had found a spot for it.  Even after 35 years in one house, the furniture stayed put.

 Mac enjoyed staying current on local events, reading the Indianapolis Star then later in life the Franklin Journal.  She would read the paper cover to cover, and that included the classified section.  She enjoyed collecting information, and would write notes to herself so she could remember everything she wanted to tell someone.  Though she was not an outgoing person, she cared greatly for others.  Household chores were always done by noon and her afternoons were usually spent relaxing in the rocker on the front porch.  She always had a listening ear for her neighbors, and if it was summertime, she would offer homemade iced tea.  She became the repository for all the goings-on in the neighborhood.  Nothing seemed to get past her.

Late in life, when she moved into the Masonic Home, the staff called her the psychologist.  They felt comfortable going to her for advice or simply to vent their frustrations.  They knew she would listen to them and share all their joys and their heartaches.  Even without a front porch, she offered a friendly smile and a welcome to all who knew her.
Though her life was very full with taking care of her family, Mac did have some special interests.  She loved to feed birds.  She enjoying learning about the different types from her bird book and liked to watch them when the came to the house.  She also liked to collect dishes.  If a family member put on a yard sale, Mac would use some of her savings to purchase the dishes.  Though she never seemed to use the dishes she bought, she enjoyed collecting them.

 Mac also loved to bake, and when her children came home from school there was always some type of homemade snack waiting for them.  When her son Bob worked for Standard grocery, she would take the day old fruit and make fresh cobblers for her family.  In the wintertime, homemade hot chocolate was a daily treat.  At Christmastime, snicker doodles and sugar cookies were always part of the festivities.

 Though she was raised a city girl, Mac had no problem adapting when her mother married a farmer later in life.  On Sunday mornings Mac and her husband Harold would drive to her mother’s home to help with the farm work.  She picked vegetables and collected eggs.  She even learned to kill chickens and pluck their feathers.  Mac would take the produce and sell them to her friends in the neighborhood or to Harold’s coworkers.  She did this as a service to her mom and step-dad and refused to accept any money for her help.

 Though Mac had lots of energy, she was plagued by arthritis much of her adult life, and that limited what she could and could not do.  In 1989 she had a double hip replacement surgery.  Afterward she feared being stuck in a wheelchair, never being able to walk again.  Physical therapy was rough for awhile, until daughter Darlene suggested to the therapists a trick of using smelling salts to keep her going.  That worked wonders and soon she was back on her feet again.

 Not long after her husband Harold died in 1992, Mac agreed to move to the White Oak Apartments in Edinburgh.  She got involved with a ladies group there.  This was the first time she had been involved in a group like this, but quickly enjoyed being part of their company.  They played cards and bingo and enjoyed regular pot luck dinners.  About 10 years later Mac moved into the Masonic home.  Her friendliness and love of others quickly drew people to her.  And as I said before, she was a friend to both staff and residents while she lived there.

 So many things can be said about this wonderful woman.  It is easy to see why she was so well-loved by all who knew her.  Mac will be remembered for her laughter, her astounding organizational skills, her practicality, her kindness and generosity, and her great love of family.  Mac is survived by her children Robert, Darlene and David, her grandchildren Craig, Michelle, Sharon, Laurie, Robin, James, Isaac, Ashley, Brian and Chris, eleven great-grandchildren, her sister Betty Puckett, and her step-brother Bill Giroud.  Mac will be greatly missed by her family, her friends, and by all who were blessed by her presence in their lives.  But all who have been touched by this special woman can rejoice that she is now at home in God’s heavenly kingdom.
You are missed, Grandma!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

#52Ancestors: Fredericka Peterson Goldquist

Fredericka Peterson Goldquist

I chose this week to write about my 3rd great-grandmother, Fredericka Peterson Goldquist, on the theme of "plowing through."  Fredericka was an immigrant from Sweden, having been born there in the town of Hagersda in 1824. She came to the U.S. when she was 23 with her parents and siblings. Their destination was Knox County, Illinois, where she lived for the rest of her life. While they were traveling through the Erie Canal many of them contracted cholera. Fredericka's mother and brother both passed from the disease, but Fredericka, even though she constantly tended to the sick, never became ill with it. Even a doctor who later took care of others in her group fell ill and died. This seems to be a theme in Fredericka's life. The History of Knox County, Illinois has a short piece on her, and says many times how she devoted her life to the care of others. She married to Claus Olofson Goldquist and with him had five children, who were left to her sole care when he passed away when still quite young. Even through this she gave so much of her time to others. The piece on her says, "When one attempts to analyze the secret of Mrs. Goldquist's usefulness, he finds it in her sincere faith in Christ and in her desire to serve Him by ministering through every possible, accessible channel, to mankind." She was an active member of the Soldiers' Aid Society during the Civil War and was a ward visitor for many years through The Dorcas Society. In addition to this, she taught a Sunday School class for 35 years, which was so popular it was often crowded. When Fredericka passed away in March 1889, it was said at her funeral that "her career can be said to be worked like golden threads into the better natures of hundreds of men and women here."